Small businesses are the perfect group to embrace new technologies. They can implement devices on a small level without having to invest at scale, improve their ability to compete with bigger companies and gain a reputation as innovators. The question then becomes, which technologies are worth the investment?

One burgeoning platform that promises to be a part of many companies and households in the near future is the Internet of Things. Small businesses have a few ways they can latch onto the this developing system of interconnected devices to build a more efficient, coordinated and accessible office.

Benefits of connecting to the IoT
Small businesses will find that as more of their devices become Internet enabled, as more time passes and as more data is gathered, the benefits will grow exponentially. The Internet of Things is more of a concept than a technology – the central premise is that devices can work together, anticipate trends and consolidate resources.

Information Week characterized three ways in which the IoT can upgrade a company's operations.

  1. Digitalized processes: Devices can expedite an operation throughout its entire process, including gathering information, executing a task and affecting a business outcome. For example, a virtual login system at a healthcare provider can determine how many and how long patients were in a waiting room, give preference to those with the most urgent needs, and help everyone receive faster and better care.
  2. Emergency notification: Internet-enabled tools can connect to smart phones, tablets, email and social media to alert individuals when there is a situation that demands attention. These could range from existential threats like a burglar or fire to operations needs like a mechanical malfunction.
  3. Data analysis: Due to smart devices' ability to track and store data, business owners will gain a better understanding of where inefficiencies occur and how information trends. These analytics are valuable insights that small business owners can use to improve their companies' effectiveness.

Aside from office benefits, there is another reason a small business should connect to the IoT: staying ahead of the curve. More companies are becoming aware of the potential of the IoT, and as a result the playing field will soon become a higher plane. A June 2013 survey from The Economist found that 96 percent of responding business owners expect their company to be using the IoT to some extent within three years.

Office technology industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, leaders in office technology equipment financing. Marlin is a nationwide provider of equipment financing solutions supporting equipment suppliers and manufacturers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.